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Without a doubt, our day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island was the highlight of our three day weekend in the coastal town.

There are so many reasons to recommend a day trip to Ugljan Island. I’m so happy we opted to get off the beaten path at this charming destination rather than head to the more popular Zrce beach or Kornati Islands.

Are you ready to see it for yourself?

This Zadar to Ugljan day trip guide covers:

  • How to take the ferry from Zadar to Ugljan Island
  • How much does it cost to visit Ugljan Island?
  • What to do on Ugljan Island
  • How to get from Ugljan Island back to Zadar
  • Where to stay on Ugljan Island (and in Zadar)
  • And much more!

If you’re considering a day trip from Zadar, I highly recommend heading to Ugljan Island – here’s everything you need to know to make it happen!

Want more of the outdoors? Join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges. 


view of Preko on our ferry from Zadar to Ugljan, Croatia

First view of Preko on our ferry from Zadar to Ugljan


How to Get to Ugljan Island From Zadar

I love this day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island was because it’s just so easy.

I’d already used up all my travel patience on the four-hour bus from Zagreb to Zadar, so I didn’t want to go anywhere that was too far.

We considered the Kornati Islands, but the all-day outings were expensive. We thought about taking a bus to Zrce Beach on Pag Island, but the tickets were 80 kuna / $12.50 usd per person and the ride was over an hour.

Finally, we just went to the Zadar Ferry Port and asked for the next boat out. When she told us it was to the town of Preko on Ugljan Island and only required a 20-minute boat ride, I was sold.

In fact, Ugljan Island is so close you can see it from Zadar!

The port town that you’ll arrive in, Preko, is directly across the water from the city. Don’t let this fool you though, these two places are worlds apart in every other way.

So, the best way to get to Ugljan Island from Zadar is by boat, but how should you go about actually making the trip?

First, check out the Zadar to Ugljan ferry timetable and read it carefully because the schedule varies by month.

Then, take an Uber to the ferry port and buy your ticketat the main office. Round trip tickets on the ferry from Zadar to Ugljan have an open return which lets you stay as long as you want and hop on any boat back that you’d like!


ferry from Zadar to Ugljan Island

Enjoying the short 20-minute ferry from Zadar to Preko on Ugljan Island


Costs For a Day Trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island

Another reason why we chose this outing over other options like Zrce beach was that it’s affordable.

Despite it’s close proximity to Zadar, Ugljan Island is mostly passed over by tourists so you can escape some of the ultra-high prices you find elsewhere on the coast.

On our day trip to Ugljan Island, we spent:

  • 75 kuna / 12 usd for an Uber to and from the ferry port
  • 72 kuna / 11 usd for two round trip ferry tickets
  • 130 kuna / 20 usd for two 6-hour bike rentals from an agency in the Preko main square.
  • 38 kuna / 6 usd for some snacks at the small Preko market (pastries, apples, water, etc.)

…and that’s about it. In total, our day trip from Zadar cost only $39 for a couple!

Part of this was because we brought a bottle of wine with us from Zadar and munched on some snacks throughout the day rather than eat at a restaurant.

If you do want to get lunch or dinner on the island there are multiple restaurants to choose (but I’m unsure about the prices you can expect).


beaches in Preko

Ugljan Island is a nice escape from the crowded Zadar beach


What to Do on Ugljan Island

The best things to do on Ugljan Island are rent a bike and go for a swim in the picturesque Samostan SV Jeronima cove.

Dan and I got off the ferry around noon and walked from the port to the town of Preko. This picturesque walk along the water and through a marina was beautiful and made me excited to see more of the island.

While you can eat, swim, and relax in the town of Preko, I recommend exploring more with a bike rental!


view of Ugljan Island during bike ride

The town of Preko during our bike ride to Ugljan on the other side of the island


1. Rent a Bike in Preko

Organizing this was super easy and we simply went to the tour and rental shop in the main square.

The price was 65 kuna / 10 usd for a six-hour rental and we got two. From here, we headed across the street and grabbed some pastries, apples, and another water bottle at the small Konzam Market and we were on our way.

There is a map of the island in the main square, and I recommend taking a picture before you leave.

We decided to take the main road all the way from Preko to the town of Ugljan at the end of the island, but there are plenty of side trips you can choose instead.

The ride was about an hour and though it did have uphill it was nothing too strenuous. The views were beautiful and varied from rolling green hills to ocean views to red-roofed towns with church spires.


swimming on Ugljan Island in Croatia

Swimming in a hidden cove on Ugljan Island


2. Swim in the Picturesque Samostan SV Jeronima Cove

Finally, we arrived in the town of Ugljan and rode through it to find the most beautiful little swimming cove with an old church. (If you want to follow in our footsteps, click here to find it on Google Maps.)

The water was clear and splashed in varying shades of blue. A few people dotted the shore and were jumping in off a docked boat, and all in all, it looked like every Mediterranean fantasy I’ve ever had came to life.

No crowds, no stress – just a pier, a packed lunch, and a few hours to enjoy under the sun. It was much better than our less-than-stellar experience on the disappointing Zadar beach the day before.

We brought a bottle of wine with us and split it while swimming in the water and laying on the pier.

We simply relaxed in Ugljan for a few hours until it was time to tackle our long ride back to Preko (it was easier than on the way out, at least) to return our bike rentals and take the ferry back from Preko to Zadar.


swimming in Ugljan, Croatia

One more pic of this absolutely gorgeous swimming spot to convince you to take a day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island! 


How to Get from Preko to Zadar

Honestly, it was as simple as checking the timeline for the next ferry to Zadar and boarding it for the trip at dusk.

Because we visited Ugljan Island in the high season there were multiple ferry times to choose from. If you want to grab dinner or drinks in Preko before you leave you can stay until 10 pm or later most days.

I suggest taking the ferry to Zadar during sunset because the trip is beautiful.

Honestly, the views from the ferry on the way out and back alone were enough to make a day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island worth the effort!


ferry from Ugljan Island to Zadar

Views from the Preko to Zadar ferry ride at dusk


Bonus: Where to Stay in Zadar and on Ugljan Island

We stayed in Zadar on our trip but honestly a night or two on Ugljan Island could be really relaxing.

Apartment Blue Paradise is the top-rated hotel in Preko has a solid 10 out of 10 score on (with only seven reviews, but still) while Apartment Zanov comes in a close second with a 9.5 review score.

If you’re looking for something a bit more budget friendly, Apartment Tea is the cheapest hotel in Preko at $44 per night. 

In Zadar, the Magic View Apartments are the top-rated in the city with a review score of 9.9 while the Lea Apartment is the cheapest hotel at $17 per night.

For solo travelers, dorm beds at Tequila Bar Hostel and Hostel Dentex 4 You are $11 and $12 per night respectively.


swimming cove in Ugljan, Croatia

Perfection on Ugljan Island


Visit Ugljan Island With This Guide

Ready to see this lil’ piece of paradise for yourself?

This guide has everything you need to know for a perfectly simple day trip from Zadar to Ugljan Island. Skip the crowded Zadar beach and create your own (much more memorable) Croatian adventure with my day trip blueprint by your side.

Our bike ride across Ugljan Island and relaxing day at the beach was definitely the highlight on our trip to Zadar and I can’t recommend it enough! Enjoy!


Ready to go?

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Zadar and explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.

Then, join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges. 


This article is part of the Zadar Series. Read the rest below:

How to Get from Zagreb to Zadar

3 Best Cheap Restaurants in Zadar

Is Zadar Worth Visiting?

Then, explore the complete Croatia series for more to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.


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